The Displaced And The Dispossessed

As I read about the current displacement in the Gaza Strip, I wonder what it must have felt like for the Palestinians to be dispossessed of their communities and to be evicted from their ancesteral homes, gardens and farms in the midst of the events of 1948 and never be able to return to their land—a dispossession with such resonance in history that gave rise to intellectual giants such as Edward Said.

Of course, we can only extend our "benevolence" (sympathy, compassion, humanity, or what the Persian poets call ons) from smaller examples to larger ones if like Mencius and Rumi we come to believe that human heart has the same subtle material construct wherever we search for it.

Have you ever seen a shoe-maker make a basket for a shoe?

Or—we simply could extend such sympathy if we exert ourselves to comprehend that separation feeds the ever-present and the greatest saga of human life, whether seen through the eyes of English art critique John Berger or the Scottish philosopher John MacMurray. (The very short Wikipedia entry on MacMurray, who deserves a much longer one, says that young Tony Blair was deeply influenced by MacMurray. The influence does not really surprise me. MacMurray's books contain volumes of fresh and interesting ideas expressed in very simple language. However, apparently, I have read MacMurray in ways entirely different from how young Blair may have read him. MacMurray does have a curious chapter in one of his otherwise excellent books Science, Art and Religion where he mistakes Christianity as the only religion based in love, predicting that it will be the the one true religion that will (or is worth to) remain and prevail in the world. With the recent events, one may wonder whether young Blair and his peers only remembered this curious chapter, but then again, I've never met the Prime Minister. So, it would be extremely presumptuous of me to so judge him. In any case, MacMurray's work revolves around much more than that one short chapter where he expressed, possibly, his own personal views, sidestepping widely from his own philosophical concerns. Yes, this has been a long parenthesis, but isn't life composed of many long and nested parenthesis and material on the margins?)

Listen how the reed-flute recounts the story of its separation—the first mesrah in Rumi's Mathnavi reminds the reader.

From what has the reed-flute been cut off? From the bed of its fellow reeds.

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